NASA History

NASA History Learn the history of NASA's exploration of the universe and its many discoveries about our home planet. This is the NASA History Office's official page.

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Mission: NASA's mission is to pioneer the future in space exploration, scientific discovery and aeronautics research.

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In 2014, the International Space Station's 3-D printer manufactured the first 3-D printed object in space! The object, p...
11/25/2020

In 2014, the International Space Station's 3-D printer manufactured the first 3-D printed object in space! The object, pictured here, is a printed faceplate engraved with names of the organizations that collaborated on this 3-D Printing in Zero-G Technology Demonstration: NASA and Made In Space, Inc., a space manufacturing company. NASA Astronaut Barry "Butch" Wilmore installed the printer on Nov. 17 and conducted a series of calibration tests. On Nov. 25, he removed the completed part from the printer. This experiment demonstrated how 3-D printing can be used to create a variety of parts and tools in space.

Watch the 3-D printer at work here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6BAy2fiBElU&feature=emb_title

Our Landsat satellites help track changes to Earth's surface, and they can also give us a new perspective on our history...
11/24/2020

Our Landsat satellites help track changes to Earth's surface, and they can also give us a new perspective on our history! In this 2016 image of the Tafilalt Oasis in southeastern Morocco, we can see the paths of underground waterways that date back to the 14th century. These channels, called Qanats, have transported water to nearby towns and villages for several centuries, and about half of the 69 channels in Tafilalt are still used today!

In 2017, NASA Ames scientist Dr. Cindy Schmidt created the Indigenous People’s Capacity Building Initiative, a program t...
11/23/2020

In 2017, NASA Ames scientist Dr. Cindy Schmidt created the Indigenous People’s Capacity Building Initiative, a program that collaborates with Indigenous communities using satellite data for natural and cultural resource management. Working with her colleague, Dr. Amber McCullum, Schmidt developed the program as a resource to assist tribal communities with issues related to climate change, forestry and water management. Schmidt and McCullum regularly attend on-site meetings with tribal officials around the country to better understand the unique needs of each community and how NASA's satellite data can be most useful.

https://www.nasa.gov/feature/blending-science-and-tradition-sharing-remote-sensing-technologies-with-indigenous

#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

A member of the Cherokee nation, Mary Ross wasthe first female engineer at Lockheed. After teaching science and math in ...
11/20/2020

A member of the Cherokee nation, Mary Ross wasthe first female engineer at Lockheed. After teaching science and math in rural Oklahoma during the Great Depression, she pursued a Master's degree from the University of Northern Colorado. By her graduation in 1937, she had taken every astronomy class the school offered.

In 1942, Ross was hired as a mathematician at the Lockheed Corporation. She worked up the ranks, and was selected as one of the original 40 Skunk Works team members, a super-secret group that researched advanced and novel aerospace systems for the US government. Many papers published by the group are still classified. Ross was one of the authors of the 1970 NASA Planetary Flight Handbook Vol. III, which featured trajectory plans for space travel to Mars and Venus.

Image Credit: “Ad Astra per Astra” Portrait of Mary Golda Ross, by America Meredith, acrylic on canvas, 30" x 40", 2011, from the collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

#HappyBirthday to astronaut Eileen Collins! A talented pilot, Collins was selected as an astronaut in 1990, and soon bec...
11/19/2020

#HappyBirthday to astronaut Eileen Collins! A talented pilot, Collins was selected as an astronaut in 1990, and soon became a pillar of the Space Shuttle program. In 1995, she became the first female Shuttle Pilot during STS-63, also the first flight of the new joint Russian-American Space Program! In 1999, Collins became the first female Shuttle Commander, leading the mission that deployed the Chandra X-Ray Observatory to study phenomena like quasars and black holes.

In January 2005, NASA representatives met with a group of Navajo educators and leaders. Two days of discussion led to th...
11/18/2020
NASA Astrobiology

In January 2005, NASA representatives met with a group of Navajo educators and leaders. Two days of discussion led to the birth of the "NASA and the Navajo Nation" project, an educational initiative formed under the guiding principle of a "dual-learning environment"—one that encourages the freedom to explore both scientific and cultural ways of knowing. After this initial meeting, a project team of NASA scientists, Navajo Medicine Men, and educators from both communities began work. The team developed two educator guides which have supported a variety of workshops, camps, and outreach programs over the years. Learn more:

https://go.nasa.gov/2UGMOTn

#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

The “NASA and the Navajo Nation” project began with a simple question: is the Navajo Nation interested in partnering with NASA on educational initiatives? Despite it’s simplicity, this was a revolutionary approach by a federal agency toward working with a Native American community. We are stil...

Today in 1967, the Surveyor 6 spacecraft hopped up and down on the Moon. Near the end of its mission measuring lunar sur...
11/18/2020

Today in 1967, the Surveyor 6 spacecraft hopped up and down on the Moon. Near the end of its mission measuring lunar surface chemistry, the craft briefly fired its engines, rose about 4 meters into the air, and landed around 2.5 meters away. This was the first ever successful liftoff from the lunar surface, less than 2 years before humans landed on the Moon.

In the days before the hop, Surveyor 6 took these pictures of its surroundings, which have been assembled into panoramas.

Join us tomorrow (November 18) for an exciting presentation!
11/17/2020

Join us tomorrow (November 18) for an exciting presentation!

On Wednesday, November 18th at 12:00pm ET, photographer Roland Miller will be presenting a talk titled: Interior Space: Preserving the History and Culture of the International Space Station through Photographic Interpretation”

Join us next week!

Researchers in NASA's Hyper-X program sought to validate key propulsion and other technologies for air-breathing hyperso...
11/16/2020

Researchers in NASA's Hyper-X program sought to validate key propulsion and other technologies for air-breathing hypersonic aircraft. Unlike rocket-powered vehicles like the Space Shuttle, scramjet (supersonic combustion ramjet) powered vehicles do not have to carry their own oxidizer. As a result, aircraft can be smaller and lighter, or be the same size but carry more payload.

Years of research culminated in the record-breaking flight of the X-43A scramjet #OTD in 2004. About an hour before the flight, X-43A Monitor Station Operator Brad Neal, pictured here, performed final checks and pre-flight preparations. The aircraft achieved hypersonic speeds above Mach 9.6, or about 7, 000 mph!

On this day in 1971, Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to orbit Mars, beating the Soviet Mars 2 spacecraft by two we...
11/13/2020

On this day in 1971, Mariner 9 became the first spacecraft to orbit Mars, beating the Soviet Mars 2 spacecraft by two weeks despite having launched 11 days later. When Mariner 9 arrived, the planet was engulfed in a massive dust storm, obscuring its surface for weeks to come.

After waiting out the storm, Mariner 9 transmitted over 7,000 images of the Martian surface back to Earth. The images included surface features likely formed by liquid water, such as the channel Nirgal Vallis shown below. These discoveries transformed the predominant scientific view of Mars from geologically inert, to a place that was geologically active. The exploration of the Red Planet continues today with NASA's Perseverance Rover, which will search for signs of ancient life once it lands on Feb. 18th, 2021.

On Wednesday, November 18th at 12:00pm ET, photographer Roland Miller will be presenting a talk titled: Interior Space: ...
11/11/2020

On Wednesday, November 18th at 12:00pm ET, photographer Roland Miller will be presenting a talk titled: Interior Space: Preserving the History and Culture of the International Space Station through Photographic Interpretation”

Join us next week!

54 years ago today marked the final flight of the Gemini program, Gemini XII. At this point in the space program, NASA a...
11/11/2020

54 years ago today marked the final flight of the Gemini program, Gemini XII. At this point in the space program, NASA astronauts had successfully performed rendezvous and docking, changed orbits, and spent two weeks in space. However, they had yet to master a crucial ability: spacewalking. Looking toward the future, NASA knew that mastering spacewalks would be necessary to achieve the goal of landing the first humans on the moon before the end of the decade. As a result, the primary objective of Gemini XII was to solve the problems of working outside a spacecraft.
On November 12, 1966, astronaut Buzz Aldrin performed a stand-up spacewalk, during which he installed a handrail that would assist his movements during the full extravehicular activity (EVA). Aldrin also took what he called "the first space selfie." The next day, Aldrin successfully completed a two-hour, nine-minute spacewalk. Commander Jim Lovell photographed Aldrin as he worked with electrical connectors on the Agena spacecraft.

The spacewalking problem was solved!

The first episode of Sesame Street aired today in 1969! Sesame Street has built a legacy of accessible and imaginative e...
11/10/2020

The first episode of Sesame Street aired today in 1969! Sesame Street has built a legacy of accessible and imaginative education, and has collaborated with NASA many times to celebrate the joy of learning and the wonder of space. Today, we celebrate two of our favorite bits of Sesame Street space history!

In 1984, Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, appeared on three Sesame Street, including counting down from 10 and talking to a group of kids about what it's like to go up in space.

In 2011, Elmo visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida to talk to the astronauts of STS-135, the final mission of the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Elmo toured the Center and interviewed astronauts like Leland Melvin about space, the shuttle, and what it's like to be an astronaut!

20 years ago, NASA partnered with Native American high school science students to conduct a space botany experiment usin...
11/09/2020

20 years ago, NASA partnered with Native American high school science students to conduct a space botany experiment using synthetic Martian soil. The project, called "Spuds in Space," marked the first test of this soil as a medium for in-orbit plant growth. Students from the Shoshone-Bannock High School on the Fort Hall Indian Reservation in southeastern Idaho designed a test to compare plants grown in the simulated dirt on Earth with those grown in space. Their experiment, flown aboard the Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-101) was the second time Native American students sent a science project to space. The first experiment, also conducted by students from Shoshone-Bannock High School, flew in 1998 on the Shuttle Discovery. Shoshone-Bannock science teacher Ed Galindo said, "This project has provided Native American students in rural Idaho with hands-on research opportunities and given students a chance to learn about Mars in a fun, educational manner."
Learn more about the project here: https://go.nasa.gov/38dUHrA
#NativeAmericanHeritageMonth

International conflict and technological development have been entangled throughout history. From their inception, rocke...
11/06/2020

International conflict and technological development have been entangled throughout history. From their inception, rockets were intended to be used for space travel by their inventor, Robert Goddard. However, in the midst of WWI, Goddard adapted his invention to aid the war effort.

This week in 1918, Goddard and his co-worker, Clarence Hickman, demonstrated their prototype of a rocket-based weapon to the US Army, using music stands as the launch platform. While this precursor to the bazooka was promising, the idea's development was delayed when the WWI Armistice was signed only days later. The bazooka was later used as an anti-tank weapon by the US Army in WWII.

Today in 2002, the Galileo spacecraft flew closer to Jupiter than ever before, passing by the small moon Amalthea and th...
11/05/2020

Today in 2002, the Galileo spacecraft flew closer to Jupiter than ever before, passing by the small moon Amalthea and through Jupiter's thin "gossamer" ring. On this close approach, though, it sustained damage from Jupiter's naturally strong radiation, and its instruments and tape recorder shut down.

After a month-long remote repair effort, engineers at JPL located the problem in the tape recorder and managed to repair it from millions of miles away, enabling data on the tape recorders to finally be transmitted to Earth!

Women aviators have been pioneering the field of flight since the early 20th century. Many know of Amelia Earhart, but f...
11/04/2020

Women aviators have been pioneering the field of flight since the early 20th century. Many know of Amelia Earhart, but few know that she was part of an organization of women pilots called the Ninety-Nines. Founded this week in 1929, the Ninety-Nines began as a group of female pilots invited to assemble for the purpose of advancing aviation and documenting women's contributions to the field. This photo was taken during their first meeting, attended by 99 members, hence the name. The group elected Earhart as the first president in 1931. Over the decades, the group has grown into the global organization it is today (The Ninety-Nines, Inc, International Organization of Women Pilots).

Happy #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth! In 2002, astronaut John Herrington made history as the first enrolled member of a Na...
11/02/2020

Happy #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth! In 2002, astronaut John Herrington made history as the first enrolled member of a Native American tribe to travel to space. A dedicated public servant, Herrington received his commission from the Aviation Officer Candidate School in 1984, and he was designated a Naval Aviator the following year. After earning a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, he was selected as an NASA astronaut candidate in 1996. On his historic mission aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour (STS-113), Herrington brought with him the Chickasaw Nation flag and a traditional flute.

With the exciting news last week from OSIRIS-REx making contact with the asteroid Bennu, we take a look back at our past...
10/29/2020

With the exciting news last week from OSIRIS-REx making contact with the asteroid Bennu, we take a look back at our past asteroid visits! Today in 1991, we took our first fly-by of an asteroid as the Galileo spacecraft flew by Gaspra on its way to Jupiter. These pictures of the 10-mile-long Gaspra, taken nearly 30 years ago, were our first up-close glimpse of an asteroid.

One of the most reflective surfacesin the solar system, Enceladus shines brightly in the sunlight. This cold moon is con...
10/28/2020

One of the most reflective surfacesin the solar system, Enceladus shines brightly in the sunlight. This cold moon is constantly coated in a layer of white ice as it orbits around its parent planet, Saturn, whose rings are visible in the background. In 2005, NASA's Cassini spacecraft discovered the source of this fresh ice: jets of water and gas erupting from fractures in Enceladus's crust. The continuous outbursts of the moon's global ocean generate a halo of ice dust that maintains Enceladus's frozen surface and also supplies material to Saturn's E-ring.

On this day in 2015, scientists wanted to learn more about the composition of Enceladus's icy plume and the ocean world underneath. They sent Cassini on a daring flyby, bringing it within 30 miles (48 kilometers) of the surface. Learn more about the mission: https://go.nasa.gov/3oCu3yc

Discovered in 1807, Vesta is the second most massive body in the main asteroid belt, only less massive than the dwarf pl...
10/26/2020

Discovered in 1807, Vesta is the second most massive body in the main asteroid belt, only less massive than the dwarf planet Ceres. This giant, rocky asteroid accounts for nearly nine percent of the total mass of all asteroids. But unlike most other known asteroids, Vesta has separated into crust, mantle, and core. To investigate this unusual feature, NASA's Dawn mission was sent to visit Vesta, orbiting the asteroid from July 2011 to September 2012.

The Dawn mission discovered that Vesta formed within 1 to 2 million years of the birth of the solar system, during a period when radioactive material was incorporated into newly-formed bodies. The heat from this material melted Vesta, causing its components to separate by density, with denser matter sinking to the core and less dense matter rising to the crust. Learn more about Vesta: https://go.nasa.gov/3kCPywJ.

ESA - European Space Agency 's Planck space telescope mission was to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the ra...
10/23/2020

ESA - European Space Agency 's Planck space telescope mission was to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the radiation left over from the Big Bang. Launched in 2009, the spacecraft spent nearly 4.5 years surveying the sky until its mission came to an end #OTD in 2013. Planck completed five full-sky surveys with its two main instruments, surpassing the original mission goal of two. Data from the mission provided a more accurate recipe of the Universe's ingredients: normal matter (which makes up stars and galaxies), dark matter, and dark energy (a mysterious force accelerating the expansion of the Universe). Learn more: https://go.nasa.gov/31BHwwr

Today in 1975, USSR craft Vanera 9 sent the first pictures from the surface of another planet. The craft was launched in...
10/22/2020

Today in 1975, USSR craft Vanera 9 sent the first pictures from the surface of another planet. The craft was launched in June, arrived in Venus' orbit on October 20, and its lander touched down on the 22nd. It took atmospheric data (on temperature, chemical makeup, pressure, and more) and took a 180-degree panorama of the ground around it, before losing contact 53 minutes later. This is our view of what it's like to stand on another planet!

After landing on the Moon in 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts returned to Earth with lunar rocks and soil. Researchers at ...
10/21/2020

After landing on the Moon in 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts returned to Earth with lunar rocks and soil. Researchers at NASA Ames tested these samples for evidence of life. Chemists like Audrey Miyamoto, pictured here, prepared Apollo lunar samples to analyze for amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. Although they found no signs of life, their work represented the first time that NASA searched for the possibility of life beyond Earth using samples from another world.

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